On November 18th…

November 18, 1895: Oberstein murdered Arthur Cadogan West. [BRUC] (Spoilers! –Selena Buttons)

Illustration by Arthur Twidle for The Strand Magazine (December, 1908)

‘He had his suspicions before, and he followed me as you describe. I never knew it until I was at the very door. It was thick fog, and one could not see three yards. I had given two taps and Oberstein had come to the door. The young man rushed up and demanded to know what we were about to do with the papers. Oberstein had a short life-preserver. He always carried it with him. As West forced his way after us into the house Oberstein struck him on the head. The blow was a fatal one. He was dead within five minutes. There he lay in the hall, and we were at our wits’ end what to do. Then Oberstein had this idea about the trains which halted under his back window. But first he examined the papers which I had brought. He said that three of them were essential, and that he must keep them. “You cannot keep them,” said I. “There will be a dreadful row at Woolwich if they are not returned.””I must keep them,” said he, “for they are so technical that it is impossible in the time to make copies.” “Then they must all go back together to-night,” said I. He thought for a little, and then he cried out that he had it. “Three I will keep,” said he. “The others we will stuff into the pocket of this young man. When he is found the whole business will assuredly be put to his account.” I could see no other way out of it, so we did as he suggested. We waited half an hour at the window before a train stopped. It was so thick that nothing could be seen, and we had no difficulty in lowering West’s body on to the train. That was the end of the matter so far as I was concerned.’

November 18, 1901: Bob Ferguson’s wife fell ill. [SUSS]

Illustration by Howard K. Elcock for The Strand Magazine (January, 1924)

I followed the girl, who was quivering with strong emotion, up the staircase and down an ancient corridor. At the end was an iron-clamped and massive door. It struck me as I looked at it that if Ferguson tried to force his way to his wife he would find it no easy matter. The girl drew a key from her pocket, and the heavy oaken planks creaked upon their old hinges. I passed in and she swiftly followed, fastening the door behind her.

On the bed a woman was lying who was clearly in a high fever. She was only half conscious, but as I entered she raised a pair of frightened but beautiful eyes and glared at me in apprehension. Seeing a stranger, she appeared to be relieved, and sank back with a sigh upon the pillow. I stepped up to her with a few reassuring words, and she lay still while I took her pulse and temperature. Both were high, and yet my impression was that the condition was rather that of mental and nervous excitement than of any actual seizure.

Birth of an Irene

Publicity material for Sherlock Holmes (2009)

On November 17, 1978, Rachel Anne McAdams was born in London, Ontario, Canada. She began acting as a teenager in theater productions and earned a BFA in Theatre at York University.

In 2009, she appeared as Irene Adler in the film Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson (respectively).

On November 16th…

Eugen Sandow (1889)

In a diary entry on November 16, 1898, Arthur Conan Doyle recorded his clothed weight as 219 pounds. As he approached his 40th birthday, his rather sedentary lifestyle was catching up with him. To get back into shape, he adopted the fitness regimen prescribed by famous strong man Eugen Sandow.

Nothing, in my opinion, is better than the use of the dumb-bell, for developing the whole system, particularly if it is used intelligently, and with a knowledge of the location and functions of the muscles. (Eugen Sandow, Sandow on Physical Training: A Study in the Perfect Type of the Human Form, 1894)

He was the fitness guru of the day, perhaps something like a Richard Simmons without television appearances.

Sources: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”); The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, by Andrew Lycett

“Chips” notes that if you don’t have a copy of the fabulous A Curious Collection of Dates, you might want to suggest it as gift for an upcoming holiday.

On November 6th…

November 6, 1857: The Gloria Scott sank. [GLOR]

The prison hulk, Success, at Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

These are the very papers, Watson, which he handed to me, and I will read them to you as I read them in the old study that night to him. They are indorsed outside, as you see: “Some particulars of the voyage of the barque Gloria Scott, from her leaving Falmouth on the 8th October, 1855, to her destruction in N. lat. 15° 20′, W. long. 25° 14′, on November 6th.”

[…]The seamen had hauled the foreyard aback during the rising, but now as we left them they brought it square again, and, as there was a light wind from the north and east, the barque began to draw slowly away from us. Our boat lay, rising and falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and I, who were the most educated of the party, were sitting in the sheets working out our position and planning what coast we should make for. It was a nice question, for the Cape de Verds was about 500 miles to the north of us, and the African coast about 700 miles to the east. On the whole, as the wind was coming round to north, we thought that Sierra Leone might be best, and turned our head in that direction, the barque being at that time nearly hull down on our starboard quarter. Suddenly as we looked at her we saw a dense black cloud of smoke shoot up from her, which hung like a monstrous tree upon the sky-line. A few seconds later a roar like thunder burst upon our ears, and as the smoke thinned away there was no sign left of the Gloria Scott.

Limerick Corner: A Toast to Sherlock Holmes

Last night, the Curious Collectors of Baker Street held an event called “Sherlock Gets Schooled” – an evening all about Holmes’s own education and the broader subject of schools in the Canon. I was asked to give the toast to Sherlock Holmes, and I decided to try my hand at writing a limerick.

My hat is officially off to those of you who write all those clever limericks!

Since our dear “Chips” is a fan of limericks, and it happens to be his birthday today, I’d like to share my very first (and quite possibly last!) Sherlockian limericks.

Sherlock Holmes shares few facts from his past
So tiny details large shadows cast
Ribbons athletes sport
Take on great import
If they name his alma mater at last

He was clearly a Cambridge man, some claim
Others carry the Oxonian flame
Wherever his class
Let’s all raise a glass
To the Master, and his own good name

To Sherlock Holmes!

Limerick Corner: Hound of the Baskervilles

A two-part limerick from Sandy Kozinn (JHWS “Roxie”):

Someone’s killing at Baskerville, and fast.
Will the current heir end up the last?
His chances were poor:
The hound howled on the moor.
Then Holmes saw that picture from the past.

The experience wasn’t much fun,
And the end bad for ‘most everyone.
Moral: Don’t walk at night
When a dog might shine bright
Or the way through the swamps been undone.

The Hound and the Bittern: A Sherlockian Sonnet by William S Dorn

The Hound and the Bittern

In the days of yore the old tales tell,
Of a spectral hound Sir Hugo much did dread.
It followed him till last he fell,
Then tore at his throat until he was quite dead.

Anon Sir Charles by the moor he did wait.
Next morn the gentle man’s remains were found.
He laid face down quite near a lonely gate,
Beside him prints of a gigantic hound.

Then Watson came to Baskerville, the Hall,
He strolled the moor and heard a frightening noise.
One man did say it was a bittern’s call,
So fierce it was the doctor lost his poise.

Alas it was the massive hound that glows,
In phosphor spread in globs from jowls to nose.

Illustration of a bittern swallowing a frog from A History of British Birds, 1st Edition, 1843, by William Yarrell

On October 19th…

October 19, 1889: Holmes and Watson shot and killed the Hound of the Baskervilles. [HOUN]

 

A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish, be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.

Illustrations by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

With long bounds the huge black creature was leaping down the track, following hard upon the footsteps of our friend. So paralysed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however, but bounded onwards. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry looking back, his face white in the moonlight, his hands raised in horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunting him down.

But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of foot, but he outpaced me as much as I outpaced the little professional. In front of us as we flew up the track we heard scream after scream from Sir Henry and the deep roar of the hound. I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl him to the ground and worry at his throat. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five barrels of his revolver into the creature’s flank. With a last howl of agony and a vicious snap in the air it rolled upon its back, four feet pawing furiously, and then fell limp upon its side. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful, shimmering head, but it was useless to press the trigger. The giant hound was dead.

October 19, 1889: Jack Stapleton perished in the Grimpen Mire. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

But more than that we were never destined to know, though there was much which we might surmise. There was no chance of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon them, but as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass we all looked eagerly for them. But no slightest sign of them ever met our eyes. If the earth told a true story, then Stapleton never reached that island of refuge towards which he struggled through the fog upon that last night. Somewhere in the heart of the great Grimpen Mire, down in the foul slime of the huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel-hearted man is for ever buried.

On October 18th…

The third episode of the first season (airdate: October 18, 1976) of The Muppet Show included a sketch featuring Holmes and Watson: “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues”.

Doesn’t look familiar? That’s possibly because the sketch was filmed specially for the UK broadcast of the show, which was two minutes longer than the US broadcast, thanks to a difference in commercial break times.

(Source: Muppet Wiki)

On October 15th…

October 15, 1889: Watson wrote his second report to Holmes. [HOUN]

Detail of Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh

Baskerville Hall, Oct. 15th

My Dear Holmes, If I was compelled to leave you without much news during the early days of my mission you must acknowledge that I am making up for lost time, and that events are now crowding thick and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon my top note with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a budget already which will, unless I am much mistaken, considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall judge for yourself.